analysis

Cop26: Anxiety and frustration as climate talks enter extra time in Glasgow

Talks have overshot Friday’s planned 6pm conclusion as complex negotiations continue behind the scenes, climate correspondent Daisy Dunne reports

Friday 12 November 2021 19:45
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<p>Some delegates are anxiously watching screens awaiting further updates, while others have called it a night </p>

Some delegates are anxiously watching screens awaiting further updates, while others have called it a night

It is Friday night in Glasgow and the Cop26 climate summit has officially entered extra time.

The two-week UN climate summit is yet to reach its conclusion, despite daily assurances from the UK minister and Cop26 president, Alok Sharma, that a consensus would be achieved by 6pm this evening.

Seasoned Cop attendees are not surprised. The last UN climate conference to finish on schedule was Cop12 in Nairobi, which took place 15 years ago. And Cop25 in Madrid, the last summit before Glasgow, was the longest in the history of the talks.

The hold-up is linked to the complex negotiations taking place behind the scenes at the summit. For a final deal to be reached in Glasgow, 197 countries must agree to the same set of terms for how they will tackle the climate crisis and ensure the goals of the landmark Paris Agreement stay within reach.

A key issue remaining for countries is how fossil fuels will feature in the final deal from Glasgow.

A first version of the Cop26 deal set new ground by calling for countries “to accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”. A second draft released on Friday instead called for an end to “unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuel,” a change that was widely interpreted as a weakening of promises by observers.

Other sticky issues include agreeing terms for how wealthy nations will supply funds to poorer ones grappling with the impacts of climate change. In addition, countries are still working to finalise the rulebook for the Paris Agreement, including guidelines for carbon markets and other types of international cooperation.

On the ground at the conference centre, the mood is confusion and frustration.

Some delegates are anxiously watching screens awaiting further updates, while others have called it a day and headed off into the city.

On the sidelines of the conference on Friday evening, Mohamed Adow, an advocate for climate justice and director of the energy and climate think tank Power Shift Africa, told a huddle of journalists that the latest draft outcome being discussed by countries would disappoint those in the global south.

“Any person who looks at the texts will realise that what we have now only reflects the rich world’s priorities – it’s lopsided,” he said. “You cannot have a multilateral outcome that only addresses the rich world’s priorities.”

It is not yet clear how long talks in Glasgow could go on for.

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